For the first time in franchise history, the Washington Mystics advanced to the WNBA Finals with hopes of avoiding elimination Wednesday with help from a few thousand fans at Eagle Bank Arena on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax.
Unfortunately, the Mystics didn’t have enough firepower against a Seattle Storm squad that shot 50 percent from beyond the arc and outrebounded Washington, 39-28, to win Game 3, 98-82, and swept the Mystics to win the team’s third WNBA championship.
“I want to congratulate the Washington Mystics” said Storm head coach Dan Hughes. “Their coach … every year does an exceptional job. But I think this was our year.”
The stats prove his case.
Seattle had a WNBA-best 26-8 regular season record, led the league in 3-point shooting at nearly 38 percent and was second in points per game at 87.2.
The team also had regular season and WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, who scored 30 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said the Storm have other players such as center Natasha Howard, who recorded a double-double with 29 points and 14 rebounds in the series clincher.
“Natasha Howard was the biggest difference between their team last year and this year,” Thibault said. “Natasha is the perfect compliment to Brenna Stewart. The two of them really play off of each other.”
The Mystics made things interesting in the second half with a 9-1 run to begin the fourth quarter.
But Howard converted two put-backs and then at the 3:25 mark, veteran and future Hall of Famer Sue Bird drove down the lane for an uncontested layup to put Seattle up 87-71.
Unlike Game 2 in Seattle when the Mystics when 0-for-16 from the 3-point line, the team shot close to their team average of 8-of-23 behind the arc.
The Mystics only shot 43.5 percent from the floor, compared to Seattle’s 50 percent, 36-of-72 on 26 assists.
But the team leaders, Ellena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver, said the team will be much improved next season after the team recorded the third best record in the league at 22-12. In addition, the Mystics will be in their own arena in southeast D.C.
“We showed a lot of character … coming off the All-Star break and playing really well,” said Toliver, who signed with the Mystics last season after seven years with the Los Angeles Sparks. “We have to keep things in perspective. A lot of teams in our league wish they were playing tonight. We know we can improve, so we will.”